Last month, our Stream Product Manager Gin Pivak, CTO Hugo Perez and Microsystems Engineer Tijn van Omme visited the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy (LPEM). They were there to inform the LPEM community about our Stream system which allows researchers to introduce an accurate and controlled liquid environment combined with in-situ heating or biasing possibilities.
We realized that most researchers were still assuming that all liquid holders for LPEM are still relying on the ‘bathtub’ style (i.e. pocket structure where the 2 chips are placed). This is far from ideal, as the liquid bypasses the nano-cell and it only flows towards the window by diffusion in a non-controlled and spontaneous way. Therefore, it was a big relief for the LPEM community to learn that our Stream system now enables the real benefits, like (a) accurately controlling pressure and flow over the window, (b) controlling membrane bulging (i.e. controlling the liquid thickness) to enable higher resolutions, (c) enabling meaningful results in structure determination and analytical microscopy studies (e.g. EDS, EELS, electron diffraction), (d) controlling and mitigating bubble formation and most importantly, (e) reproducible experiments.
The Gordon Research Conferences are a special type of conference aimed at advancing frontier research. The idea is to bring all the relevant people in the field together to discuss and present (unpublished) results and to talk about the future directions of the field. All the major players in the field were present, and there was a lot of time for interaction. This created an open atmosphere, in which knowledge was shared and collaborations were established.
It became clear that the Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy community is maturing. LPEM offers a unique way for scientists to obtain information within a wide range of fields, including nanoparticle synthesis, self-assembly, corrosion, batteries, semicon, proteins and cells. However, compared to Cryo-EM, the field is still in its early days. A number of challenges still exist before results will be reproducibly accepted by non-microscopist communities. For example how to deal with the influence of the e-beam and how to control other influencing parameters.

‘Bathtub’ style LPEM system. Liquid bypasses the Nano-Cell and flows toward the window in a non-controlled and spontaneous way.

DENSsolutions Stream LPEM system. On-chip microfluidic channel enables full control over the liquid flow and pressure, thus the liquid-sample interaction.

On the first day of the conference, our CTO gave a presentation about the Stream Liquid Biasing and Liquid Heating system which resonated well amongst the attendees. The on-chip microfluidic channel in combination with the pressure control in the Stream system aligns well with the current and future demands of the field, as it enables control over the flow and liquid layer thickness.

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